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Subaru Snuffs Out Tribeca SUV

3-row replacement reportedly in the works.

by on Oct.21, 2013

Out in the cold? Subaru plans to end production of the Tribeca after this model-year.

Despite repeated attempts to save the largely unloved SUV, Subaru has decided to pull the plug on the Tribeca, one of the few truly weak models for a Japanese automaker that defied gravity during a recession that sent most competitors crashing to earth.

The most expensive model in the Subaru line-up, and originally known as the Subaru B9 Tribeca, the ute will be pulled from production at the end of the 2014 model-year, according to Subaru officials.

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Introduced during the 2006 model-year, the Tribeca was meant to take the Japanese maker up-market compared to more mainstream models like the Outback and Forester.  But it quickly generated more than its share of criticism, especially for the peculiarly angular snout of the first-generation B9 model.

Subaru designers soon came up with a less polarizing face but that did little to enhance the SUV’s market appeal – or improve reviews that often faulted it for interior refinement that didn’t match the Tribeca’s relatively steep price point – the 2014 model starting at $33,390 before delivery charges.

Notably, the Subaru Tribeca was ranked 20th among all “Affordable Midsize SUVs, according to U.S. News and World Report.  Only the old Mitsubishi Outlander ranked lower.

(Subaru’s new Forester lands on the North American Car & Truck of the Year short list. Click Here to see the other models.)

The Tribeca has generated a grand total of just 78,000 sales since reaching the U.S. market in 2005.  And volume fell to a mere 1,247 during the first nine months of this year.  By comparison, U.S. sales of the ever-popular Subaru Outback came to 90,073 during the first three quarters of 2013.

According to a Subaru spokesperson, the maker, “plans to return to the midsize SUV segment with a three-row vehicle in the future,” though exactly when that will happen remains to be seen.

(Subaru active front crash avoidance system wins raves in IIHS testing. Click Here for more.)

Subaru’s travails with the Tribeca stand out as a sharp exception to the maker’s overall sales performance in recent years.  It was the only maker to plug through the Great Recession continuing to gain sales, as well as market share, every year.

The maker’s stock has been rewarded with a five-fold increase since the beginning of 2012 and many analysts and investors have been urging Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries to expand beyond the traditional product range despite the failure of the Tribeca. The new BRZ sports car has shown a market willingness to let Subaru stretch out, they contend.

But while the maker’s President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga recently suggested that Subaru is “at a major turning point,” he also sounded a note of caution for those who think the maker might now shift its focus from niche products like the Forester crossover and WRX hot hatch to become a true mainstream manufacturer.

“We’re not a carmaker that can grow as big as Toyota,” Yoshinaga told reporters. “And even if we could, reaching that sort of scale would mean we’d stop being Subaru.”

(What’s behind Subaru’s surge? Click Here to find out.)

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